TV Recap: American Horror Story: Hotel, Be Our Guest (05.12) Season Finale

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January 13th, 2016, 10PM, FX

Iris and Liz try to revamp the Cortez into a proper tourist spot, only to meet resistance from their murderous ghost residents (you’d….think they would have gotten that part taken care of before reopening) – mostly from Sally and Will, who has discovered the joy of murder for plot reasons. Iris and Liz struggle for something to solve the problem and come up with…social media and sketchbooks. This somehow works

Liz goes on to enjoy a grand life, supervising Will’s fashion empire with his design help, managing the newly thriving hotel and being there for her son and daughter-in-law and their newborn daughter. All the while she aches for and misses Tristan, trying hard to contact him. A cancer diagnosis causes her to make a decision that will change her eternal life forever and gives her a second chance with Tristian.

Elsewhere, we find out what happened to John, his family, and Ramona as we close the series out on another Devil’s Night, and another appearance from another previous season character.

There’s exactly one reason to enjoy this final episode of Hotel, and her name is Liz Taylor. Brave, dignified, stylish and funny, Dennis O’Hare walks away with the show in his back pocket and clearly has a hell of a time doing it. It’s impossible not to love the character, and it’s too bad that it took Ryan Murphy five episodes to hone in on her (Never forget that they actually wasted a whole hour on the Swedes’ murders in the pilot, and never ever forgive). He even manages to sell us on Tristan and Liz’ intstalove. Also good: Evan Peters’ James March, still trying to captain a ship that’s spun out of his campy control, Angela Bassett as the effortlessly stylish but criminally underbaked Ramona Royale, and everything to do with Iris and Liz’ friendship.

Then there’s everything else. Consistent right to the end, the most frustrating thing about Hotel is the opposite of the thing that made Freak Show the worst and most tedious season of the show; it meandered endlessly, shedding plots like summer jackets, building lots of atmosphere with very little plotline payoff, too dreamy and hazy to the very end, when somebody suddenly realized that the plots were dragging on pointlessly and needed some kind of resolution. The revelation RE John’s character came far too early in the season, and everything else felt like water treading, from the pointlessness of the vampire kids. But the show spins along anyway in a happy delirium, sprinkling Very Deep Messages along the way (“Social media is just like heroin!” “Don’t play God!” “Obsessive mother love sucks!”)

But I must entreat the audience, after weeks of build up: why? Why do the ghosts even NEED to kill when the killing was established as a panacea for boredom? Why would Liz choose to die in the Cortez and become a ghost instead of becoming a vampire/virus bearer via Iris? Why is Donovan cool with an eternity of apparent infantalization? Did Liz bond with the other ghosts during the timeskip? Because she really only had bonds with Iris, Ramona and Sally beforehand and onscreen. Wouldn’t eternal life be more conductive to her desire to look after them eternally and be involved in her family’s life so they won’t have to keep coming to the murder hotel to see her? Couldn’t she just do transfusions from willing donors the way Iris is apparently living? Where the hell is Queenie and why didn’t the Coven come after her? Why would Liz happily forgive Elizabeth after everything Elizabeth put her through? Why are March and Miss Evers on speaking terms after he banished her? Liz’s management skills just might be flawless, but how can she communicate with the more feral spirits, like the murderous water ghost from a few episodes ago? What was the point of Bartholomew? How did none of the fashion observers at Drake’s show not recognize Ramona? Don’t they have an appreciation for camp? How are Alex and Holden getting fed now that John can’t get to the Cortez? If the point of John’s storyline was that one shouldn’t dare to play God, why does March basically get away with doing the same? Isn’t Holden going to want a little independence? It’s not like he stopped growing emotionally. He could be another little Claudia in the making. Is everyone cool with constraining their murderousness to Devil’s Night? Why are the rules for ghosts in this universe so uneven? Is Elizabeth hunting for a new paramour for herself or for the murderers upstairs, and is she bound to James in the same deal that once held Sally?

To quote the great Pia Zadora in “The Lonely Lady”, WHY?

The Roundup

  • ”The ghosts keep killing the guests, we’re going to end up with zero stars!”
  • ”Sweetheart, you’re a ghost – you can choose whatever room you like…”
  • Developments: apparently the tourist blondes have developed a relationship with the porn actor from episode ten.
  • ”You telling us to stop killing people is like Colonel Sanders telling people to stop killing chickens” “I’m not familiar with your military friend or his poultry…”
  • ”WHEN IT COMES TO SPIRITS I AM CAPTAIN SO LISTEN UP MATEYS!” I’ll miss you fourth of all, March.
  • ”In the modern age no one has to be alone, even for a second.” Just ask Iris and her three Instagram followers.
  • I actually wish we did have more of Liz and Sally’s little music making enterprise.
  • At least they managed to explain away Lachlan’s disappearance.
  • “I was a salesman in another life –in this one, I’m a mother of style. Cut me and I bleed Dior!” Liz, you’re the one I’ll miss.
  • Billie Dean Howard, last season in season one, has her own Lifetime show now.
  • AHS has been renewed for another season – hopefully I’ll see you next fall, same station, same time.
4.5 BAD

Again, why?! Watch because of Dennis O’Haire’s spellbinding performance.

  • 4.5
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About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of Firefox.org, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.